Dear 22 year old Tim,
I’m here to tell you some things that I need you to know so that you don’t take the next 22 years and blow up, then rebuild, then blow up your life again.
I’m your 44 year old self, fresh off of 22 years of fun, games, heartache, tragedy, loss, joy, and fun.
At this point in my life, at the time of writing this letter, these 22 years have flown by. I will tell you some things that you won’t believe but shouldn’t be surprised about:
- As of this writing, you’ve been employed by two places, both family-run. One you left because you wanted to start a wholly-owned family business with your father, mother, sister, and good business associate. You’re just starting work at your father’s first company at 22, and you’ve got a shit ton of hard work that you don’t know is coming that is coming for your ass. College was cake, this real-world shit is not.
- As of this writing, you’ve finally, mercifully discovered the world of women. It took you 20 years to do it, and surprise, you did it well. But it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, and it certainly wasn’t the lifelong quest you needed to have to find your Moby Dick. And yes, you slept with a couple of white whales. Don’t sleep with fatties.
- You’ve had a life of living overweight and out of shape. For 20 of your future years, you will be a fat ass. It’s not personal, though it is. You come from a long line of family who doesn’t take care of their health. And going into the workforce after you managed to take care of yourself in college, you’ll let all that slip. You’re going to balloon into a 308 lb unhealthy human being, and only between riding the roller coaster of diets and exercise will you truly find visions of your true self, before you fall back into the fat abyss. But the good news is, at 40, just like everything else you’ll learn the hard way, you’ll finally get your shit together and be able to outrun your kids and outwork men half your age because that’s what you should’ve been doing all along.
- You have two amazing girls and an ex-wife. Yes, I said EX-wife. You spent your 20’s working hard and not putting work into your own life, so in your 30’s you married a woman because she was the only one who said yes. She married you because you gave her to opportunity for children. Both of you didn’t know who you were because you never bothered to find out. Your divorce put you in massive debt that took you two years to pay off. At the time of this writing, you are agonizingly close to your goal, with a mere $4500 left to go.
- Your kids are incredible. Your oldest is just like you in every way, almost to a fault. Tall, lanky, and opinionated, but strong-willed and spirited. She’s also got your anxiety and anger issues, some of your more unattractive qualities, but she’s still a firebrand and an amazing student, as well as a robotics champ and an engineering fiend. Your youngest is smart, funny, social, and doesn’t take shit from anyone. She’s an independent dynamo who is friendly to everyone she meets, as well as a supporting and nurturing presence to her family and friends. You’d be amazed and proud of what amazing kids you’ve produced.
I wanted to reach out to you because I know what you’re going to be going through and I want to tell you things that I would recommend you do, knowing what I know now.
I will give you a rundown, and trust me what I say, this will save you YEARS of heartache and spinning your wheels. I can tell you that you are doing well at 44, but not as well as you could be doing if you follow me on what you need to be doing. Many people write these puff pieces of what they want their past self to do, but mine is truly from the heart, and you have a chance to re-live this life with vigor and more heart that I did, because you will truly know who you are and what you want.
- Find out who you are
You are Timothy Wayne Hicks, but you don’t have the first fucking clue who the hell you are or what the hell you want. You MUST find out. It will solve almost 90% of the problems you will have in the future. Travel, try new things, spend time with friends. But know this. The myth that you were told about having a wife, house, car, kids, job, etc, is just that. It’s a myth that’s been propagated as the meaning of happiness in life, and it’s not that for many people, you included. You need to understand that just because your elders are pushing you into a direction they think you need to go, it doesn’t mean you have to go there. You have to think for yourself and don’t buy the myths of what is supposed to make you happy. What makes you happy is being who you want to be, doing what you want to do, and living how you want to live. No one has the right to take that away from you, and many people have succeeded in doing that in my life. No more.
- Don’t go into trucking
Yes, your father offered you a great opportunity, but you needed to do something else. This job, as successful as it has made you, has taken years off of your life. Trucking is stressful, problem ridden, and thankless, and you jumped in when you were young and dumb, which is right where they want to get you. Now, you’ve lived your dream of becoming an entrepreneur, but at a potential cost of your sanity. It was never what you wanted, and will never be what you wanted. You’re a slave to it at times, and while trucking runs in your family’s blood, it’s cool comfort to a man who’s endured shit tons of crap from it for 22 years. If you have a chance to do something else and then come back to it, fine, but my guess, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is that you need to travel, and take that trip to Argentina to immerse yourself in Spanish. Live there for 6 months and get yourself some world action.
- Have sex and socialize
In 5 years, at the age of 27, you’ll have sex for the first time. While this probably won’t come as much of a shock to you as it should, you’re terrible with women and you have been for a while. And it won’t get better these next few years, so I encourage you to get out and socialize. Put the fucking video games down and put your head in the game. Go out with your friends, go to business dinners, travel, and meet new people. You’ll wait 20 years and a failed marriage to get this through your thick skull, and it needs to be said. You must get better with people and improve your social skills. Experience women from different backgrounds and walks of life. And most importantly, wrap that rascal. But you need the experience.
- Pursue your passions
You love meteorology. But you couldn’t cut it because you thought it would be too hard. You never even tried it. You just assumed. Stop assuming. Get your ass to work and get a degree in something you love. You wanted to be a storm chaser, you wanted to be a meteorologist, you wanted to fly into a hurricane. You walked away from it all because you thought it was too hard. You’re a dumb fuck if you do it again. Explore what you want to do in this life. You will discover, 22 years too late as it seemed, that you have a passion for writing and a passion for helping men to live a full and more stable life for themselves. Get some balls and make a decision to be good to yourself and fuel these passions. It’s your call. Don’t forget that.
- Get married on your terms
Yes, you’re divorced at 44. Yes, you wasted 10 years of your life with a woman whom you loved, but whom you loved only because you were told that’s what to do. She’s a great mom to your kids, but you need to be better at vetting potential women in your life. At 22, you would marry the first woman that said yes to having sex to you, and you actually do that at 30. She’s a good woman, but disaster is coming if you marry her, which you do. 10 years of a loveless marriage, no sex for nearly 2 of those years, and an inert relationship that dissolves slowly. You’ll make the tough decision to leave the marriage in 2015 and you’ll be glad you did, but it will cost you years off your life as well as tens of thousands of dollars. She’s not a bad person, as a matter of fact, she’s a great co-parent and best friend, but you shouldn’t have married her. But the good things that came out of it are the two kids you have. They’re very special. But you need to marry on your terms and only when you’re ready. You’ve rushed into marriage under pressure from family and friends to “settle down”. Don’t listen to them. You’ve got to blaze a path on your own. You must take the world by the balls before you invest in another person, and that person has to be the one to help you conquer the world. If she’s not, then there’s no point.
- Be smart with money
You learn 5 years into your marriage that debt is a prison and you rack up tons of it with your wife. Then you take Dave Ramsey, and you start to get it back, until your divorce when you rack up debt again. Don’t go into debt. There’s no point in trying to have everything at 22, when you can work and live for practically nothing and save up every penny. Your success should be internal, not to show up your neighbors or people you don’t care about. You have to be smart with money and set up retirement early and contribute often to it. At 44, you’re kinda starting over on that point, and if I had done this at 22, I wouldn’t be in the straits I am now. And I want you to get a will done immediately. And life insurance, term life insurance. And get a good accountant, lawyer, and tailor.
Maybe the reason I’m writing this letter is because I’m scared for you to go through what I went through and I want you to avoid it. But maybe avoiding it isn’t the way to go. Maybe all the shit you’ll go through is so you can tell your story to a younger man than you, so he’ll learn from you.
Trying to avoid a life of some difficulties makes soft men.
You need to take life as it comes, and learn from the mistakes I made, but you’ll still make mistakes. We all do, and the best of us learn, adapt, and warn others about said mistakes. You have a lifetime to learn the hard knocks classes, so get started.
And on second thought, after you read this letter, tear it up, and do what you need to do to live your life. Just stop listening to other people who think they know better that you do about YOUR life. They don’t, and they never will.
You’ve got this, Past Tim.
Go live your life.
Timothy Wayne Hicks, 44